Tunbridge Wells 10 Sevenoaks 3
Last Saturday saw the latest renewal of the A21 derby as Sevenoaks Rugby 1st XV travelled to St Marks to face a much fancied Tunbridge Wells XV. Both sides had recorded excellent wins on the opening weekend of the new season against Gosport and Maidstone in their respective bids to prosper after promotion last term.
While the greeting you can expect to receive at St Marks is invariably of a warm and friendly nature, the exposed, hillside landscape of the pitch seems to guarantee a windy and dreek eighty minutes on the pitch whether you are in August or January.
The faithful that had gathered from both sides were reaching for the heavy duty waterproofs as the first whistle of the day got proceedings underway. The ensuing 80 minutes were gripping from first to last and it is a great credit to both teams that any meaningful attacking rugby was played and that this did not descend into a pure arm wrestle as conditions went from grim to appalling.
Playing with the Siberian gale in the first half, Wells put the visitors under the most severe stress for the opening 25 minutes but could only register a penalty for an early 3-0 lead.
Oaks responded vibrantly with a sustained period of pressure on the Wells line that could easily have brought a score or two through Adams and Humble. The home scramble defence saved the day, but only by nefarious means and a penalty gave Adams the chance to level from the kicking tee. His attempt bounced back off an upright and the danger passed. 3-0 to the hosts at the half.
The second half was a mirror image of the first with Oaks forcing the early pace. Dodd went close but knocked on within inches of the line before Adams made amends with a kick from halfway that would have had the late, lamented Bill Mclaren in full rhapsodic flow. Three all.
The defining moments of the game came late into the second half when Oaks lost Owen and Sedgwick to yellow cards in little over a minute. Oaks defended manfully for nine minutes only to concede the sole try of the game just as Owen returned to the field. The conversion was made with an outstanding kick into the wind to make the score 10-3 to the hosts.
With Sedgwick now returning to the field Oaks pushed hard to get the tying score but were denied the home defence. Wells had a chance right the end to deny the visitors a bonus point but the kick fell short.
After the final whistle head coach Adam Bowman commented: "I was really pleased with the performance of the team today, but equally frustrated not to come away with the win. We got ourselves into a position to win, but poor discipline cost us the game.
"There are 40+ players attending training week in week out, and competition across the squad is healthy - with players constantly pushing each other in a collaborative manner to improve. As a result we made a few changes from the week before, and those that came in did exceptionally well, especially Max Skinner and Sam McCorry who had outstanding defensive displays.
"There is certainly plenty more to come from this Senior Squad, and we look forward to another huge challenge this week as we move on to the Maidstone game."
Sevenoaks 1st XV takes on Maidstone at home in the League on Saturday 17 September, 3:00pm kick off at Knole Paddock. Visit www.sevenoaksrugby.com for the latest about all the Club's teams, news and results.
1 Simmons T
16 Simmons J